[-empyre-] Introducing a guest, Antonio Roman-Alcala

Antonio Roman-Alcala antidogmatist at gmail.com
Mon Oct 9 03:19:47 AEDT 2017

Hi Margaretha and everyone-

Agroecology is one of those terms that defies easy definition. In part this
is because it is mobilized by different sectors differently: scientists use
it one way, farmers another, farmer movements another (though there are
overlaps, of course).

The closest to a pithy description for agroecology I can come up with is
that it is a form of food production that is based on foundational
organizing principles which are antithetical to the simplifying industrial
capitalist model. Agroecological farming is rooted in specific cultures,
worldviews, and experiences of relating to specific ecologies on the

Agroecology's principles include diversity and diversification (in
temporal, spatial, and cultural dimensions); nutrient cycling and the
avoidance of inputs; and enhancement and regeneration of biodiversity.
Ultimately, agroecosystems should mimic the functioning of local ecosystems.

In practice, agroecological farms produce a diversity of products, for
local and regional consumption, on farms that are not reliant on outside
inputs (of say, chemical fertilizers or pesticides), and contribute to
greater rather than diminished habitats for other non-human life forms.
Agroecological farms treat pest issues through diversification, improvement
of soil through additions of organic matter, and the stewarding of
*greater* biodiversity
for improved ecological function (e.g. owl boxes to reduce rodent pest
pressure rather than poisoning the rodents). Compost is key, but so is
reverent water stewardship.

What I most appreciated regarding LVC is their active creation of unity in
diversity, of reaching across human difference from various spaces of being
subjected to the worst of modernity, in order to create a living, changing
visionary alternative form of modernity out of that difference and that
experience. What's particularly inspiring to me is that this vision is
anti-capitalist. At the same time, it doesn't propose a singular
alternative like 'communism' -- in fact, some LVC members have experiences
of statist communism and want nothing to do with such an 'ism'. And being
food producers who most often sell into local markets, it isn't a strident
anti-capitalism that sees any commerce as wrong, but one that objects to
the structures of capitalist reproduction, seeking a new form of production
and distribution based on values of ecology, egalitarianism, and democratic
participation that moves way beyond its current sclerotic forms.

Some of the ways this looks in practice is the support of 'peasant
markets', localization of distribution, production being directed towards
feeding people rather than profit (or land being used to produce fuel or
animal feed), CSAs, various forms of 'fair trade' relations, support for
subsistence/self-reliance production, opposition to GMOs and synthetic
inputs, etc

Hope this helps to explain!

On Sun, Oct 8, 2017 at 7:30 AM, margaretha haughwout <
margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Antonio,
> Thank you so much for this post, and for echoing the concerns of our other
> discussants in ways that provide new possibilities for action.
> I'm wondering, before this week comes to a close, if you might share some
> of the material ways that the CLVC envisions that we can relate to
> "communities of more distant soil." Are there certain modes of circulation
> that you found inspiring, or worth pursuing, for example?
> I'm also wondering how you describe agroecology. What are the common
> practices that distinguish it from common agriculture?
> Thank you again, Antonio --
> -M
> --
> beforebefore.net
> guerrillagrafters.org
> coastalreadinggroup.com
> --
> On Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 11:41 AM, Antonio Roman-Alcala <
> antidogmatist at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> > Hello all, and thanks to the other contributors, and to Margaretha for
> asking me to contribute.
> >
> >
> >
> > In general, I’m interested in these same questions and issues and have
> tried mostly to develop relational human-centered work (a.k.a.
> “organizing”) to address them. I’m also interested in doing this across
> geographical scales, without reifying one scale as the only or proper space
> for engagement. Thus I appreciate Valentine’s concern for the concrete
> question of “how to practice relating to the communities of more distant
> soil”, and offer some recent experiences that may relate.
> >
> >
> >
> > I was privileged to be a delegate to the 7th International Conference of
> La Vía Campesina this past July. For those who aren’t familiar, LVC is the
> world’s largest social movement of food producers, including ‘peasants’,
> indigenous groups, fishers, and ‘family’ farmers, and the conference is its
> preeminent decision-making space. The movement is a heterogeneous
> agglomeration with a distinctive politics and hybrid cosmovision.
> >
> >
> >
> > Some observers have proposed that LVC’s politics and cosmovision –
> founded on twin concepts of agroecology and food sovereignty – offers a new
> vision for modernity. That vision is fundamentally about dismantling the
> nature-society dichotomy, as the process of food production embedded in
> place and in longstanding (yet dynamic) culture brings to the fore
> immediate, physical and spiritual interrogations of the (false) division
> between human and non-human natures. Jason Moore and others have argued
> this division has underpinned the extractive period of the Capitalocene,
> and I would concur.
> >
> >
> >
> > My experience at the LVC conference showed me an imperfect but inspiring
> process of dismantling that divide, within our ‘local’ communities and
> between them, as an ever-expanding circle of solidarious relationships.
> Agroecology serves LVC – and can serve others, perhaps – as a means to
> build human-serving agroecosystems that are also constitutive of
> human/nonhuman alliances.
> >
> >
> >
> > Simultaneously interpreted between 13 or more languages, the
> conversations amongst 500 delegates from 80 countries revolved around
> ending capitalism, advancing (human) justice and the rights of nature, and
> defending indigenous and campesino ways of life under threat. The
> conversations advanced an agenda and strategy for the movement, but equally
> they offered spaces of encounter, of simple mutual listening.
> >
> >
> >
> > Combined with the ‘mystica’ (an LVC ritual of sharing of our different
> (rural) cultures in song, dance, theater and music), the ostensibly
> political direction of the conversations to me seemed at its core to be
> about “relating to the communities of more distant soil”, as a precondition
> for developing a powerful and effective oppositional movement to the
> structural violence of capitalist modernity.
> >
> >
> >
> > I will close here, so as not to go on too long, by arguing for seeing
> the slow and concrete building of shared affinity, solidarity and
> (political) alignment as key tasks for creating a more-than-human
> post-Capitalocene. While we may not yet have the volunteer interpretation
> force necessary to bring our non-human allies into our human-centered
> conversations, if we are building up from communities of practice – whose
> lives and worldviews are steeped in an everyday co-construction of life
> with non-human allies – a new politics and vision, and organization to
> bring these about, I am confident that we will be on a better path towards
> healing.
> >
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

Antonio Roman-Alcalá, MA
Thinker, Writer, Doer
+1 (415) 571 6660

recent peer-reviewed articles:
Looking to food sovereignty movements for post-growth theory
Conceptualizing components, conditions, and trajectories of food
sovereignty's 'sovereignty'
<http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01436597.2016.1142366> (2016)
Broadening the land question in food sovereignty to Northern settings: the
case of Occupy the Farm
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